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Conversations: Jess Winston ’11

March 18, 2011

Jess defends a Lady Whaler during the County Championship

For the last 3 seasons Jess Winston has been a stalwart in our illustrious girls basketball program.  Her cool demeanor and work ethic made her an invaluable member of 12 championship teams include 3 more this year as she helped lead the team t0 a 7th straight league, 6th straight County and 3rd straight Long Island championship.  From the time she was a sophomore she proved her unflappability, stepping in for an injured Sadie Singer to help the team win the Long Island and Regional Championships.  As good a basketball player as Jess is, she is an even better person and we wish her the best as she graduates in 77 days (not that we’re counting…)

>>What is your favorite memory from your SBS athletic career?
That’s a hard one.  While I’ll never forget going to the Final 4 two years ago and winning the Long Island Championship this year, I’d have to say that my favorite momory is just the time that I spent with my teammates on the bus, at intense practices, dancing in the lockerroom before games and the friendships that I made, which I will forever treasure.  Practices with Mr. Singer at 5:30 a.m. were always memorable too along with the bleacher runs with my volleyball team and the dinners out to Olive Garden… there are just too many good memories!

>>Do you have any interesting pre-game rituals?
My team definitely did last year. During every warmup we would sing “Don’t Stop Believing” and “My Heart Will Go On” as we leapt and danced across the court for our “warmup.”  It was great team bonding and the closeness of our team was one of the reasons we were so good.  I personally had the normal pre-game rituals… playing the same songs, wearing the same socks and same headband even though I’m not superstitious its just one of those things I’ve got to do.

>>What 3 words would you use to describe your play on the court?
Competitive, defensively-minded, tough.

>>What athlete did you want to be like when you were growing up?
I always looked up to athletes that overcame difficult obstacles to then later become great.  I loved the idea that an ordinary person could do great things if they just persevered through it.  Like everyone else, I loved Michael Jordan, but I also looked up to Nadia Comaneci and Eric Liddell.  If I did have one specific person I admired, it was too long ago to remember.

>>As your time wearing the blue and white wanes, what will you miss about being a Stony Brook athlete?
Everything.  From playing on our home court and doing “Whose House?!,” to playing with people that I know and love. I’m going to miss the experiences I’ve made on the court more than pretty much anything else at Stony Brook.  And I’ll miss the coaches. Their dedication and love that they’ve put into us is quite amazing.  I don’t know who would stay for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break to have 11 am practices every day!

>>What was the basketball team’s strongest characteristic this season?
Our defense and our team unity.  Defensively, we have a very strong team. With Natalie’s [Istrati] height, Brannon’s [Burke] blocks, and Danielle’s [Pappas] steals, we’re hard to beat!  We play hard every posession and we don’t make it easy for the other team to score.  Though we started out with a lot of new players, we’ve become very united and work great together as a team.  I think the fact that we give our everything for each other every time we get on the court, and that we are able to persevere even when we’re losing made us the team that we are today.

>>What does it mean to you to have helped bring home 3 more championships for the girls basketball program?
It’s very rewarding and unbelievable, but I couldn’t have done anything without my teammates espescially Natalie and Brannon who have been with me since 10th grade.  I want to thank my coaches first of all, and my dad secondly for inspiring me to go beyond what I thought I could do and for helping my persevere.

>>What is your favorite Bible verse?
Right now it’s Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not fear, for I am your God.  I will strengthan you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

>>What makes you such a threat from long-range?
The hours that I’ve put into my shot since 4th grade has given me a very accurate shot.  Vven Ms. Helm is always telling me, “Shoot the ball!”



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